It’s spring in Mississippi and two my favorite flowers or flowering plants are making me remember.
For me it’s not spring until I see the Dogwood start to bloom out. Easter is a little late on the calendar this year but usually it is right at or around Easter when they bloom out so pretty. I always notice a Dogwood tree. I never pass up the opportunity to appreciate it’s beauty and to remember the little Dogwood that my dad had in the front yard of my childhood home. I never think of Dogwoods that I don’t think about my dad. He’s been dead just over 12 years now and as I write about it is seems like yesterday. I miss my dad. I miss his strong hand on everything that took place around him in our family. Things never got too far gone that daddy couldn’t reign us all in with a look or, if need be, a more commanding “that’s enough”.
I believed my dad could put pencils in the ground and grow pine trees. He was a master gardener. I played under a particular pecan tree in our backyard that he grafted himself from stock he found in the backwoods. A tree that a local pecan orchard offered him a substantial amount of money if he would let them take the tree and use cuttings from it to make a multitude of other pecan trees (it was that unusually great for commercial pecans). He refused. Just couldn’t bear to cut the tree down or use it up that way. Too many years invested in nurturing it, protecting it and loving it into maturity. He knew that tree deeply. He did the same for all four of his children. Yea, Dogwoods remind me of my dad….I miss my dad.
Then there’s the tulips. I fell in love with tulips about the time I had my first really real, sure enough, bonafide, hopelessly head over heels, love. I was blessed enough to have a chance to spend the better part of eight months living in The Netherlands working as a semester missionary at a small church in the little town of Wassenaar. That was 28 years ago and as I write this it still feels like yesterday. Oh how I loved The Netherlands. All green and lush, and crowded together, and full of color and life. It was a 180° different world from Misssissippi to be certain. I would ride my motorcycle, really a moped but it looked like a dirt bike, to the beach almost every day to see the sun set over the North Sea. And the smells. What glorious aromas came from that land. Fresh cheese, stropewaffles on the street, pannekokken, flowers everywhere and the tulips. Acres of them in too many colors to remember. The smell I remember most, the one that transports and raptures me back to The Netherlands, is the mix of soil, and dung and peat that you get as you ride through the country side. Folks who live there will know what I’m writing about. It’s indescribable. For some it’s detestable. To me, it’s a perfume unlike any other.
I miss The Netherlands. I had a wonderful time there. I grew so much as a person, on my own, tending to the lives and hearts of others and learning who I was and what I could do on a grand adventure. It was a beautiful time of my life. One I will treasure until my Savior takes me home. I hope heaven is a little like The Netherlands.
Dogwoods and tulips. Two of my favorite things in this world. Reminding me of the best man I ever knew and some of the best moments of my life. Oh that my God would bless the lives of those who so richly touched mine in The Netherlands. Oh that he would tell my daddy that his boy misses him and will see him again soon. Thanks to the hope we share in a Savior named Jesus Christ, who made it all possible. Who made it all. So we would remember. Christ is risen and I am free.